katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
The teacher from my previous post came into the library last week and apologised once more for mistaking me for a student.  I feel a tiny bit bad for running off and laughing now, even though there’s no way she could have heard me.  She seems so genuinely embarrassed about it.  Apparently, it turns out I could “easily pass for a year twelve student” but I'm not going to try to test that theory any time soon.

I go back to school enough in my dreams, thanks very much.

Last week marked the last official word posted by [livejournal.com profile] 15minuteficlets.  It’s officially all over now, which is more than sad.  I just hope that Gill and I can carry on the tradition with [livejournal.com profile] 15_minute_fic and inspire many more people to write.

And even though I’ve felt more like editing than writing in the past few weeks, I couldn’t pass up the chance to write a ficlet for the very last word.  So I did.




Title: Untitled
Fandom: Original
Rating: G
Word count: 302 words
Prompt word: farewell

It’s not forever – I have to keep remembering that.  Not forever.  Not like I’ll never see them again.  Not like I won’t be coming back.

Not forever.

So why does it feel like forever?  Why does it feel like this is the last time ever?  Why does it feel like this is going to be the last time I cry like this because I’m going to have no tears left once this is done?

I don’t have enough time.  I can’t look at them long enough, can’t hold them close enough.  It’s not enough, not even close.  I want my lifetime with them.  I don’t want to have to make do with mere memories of them.  I need this warmth and this love and this closeness.

It’s not forever.

But I want this moment to last forever, even with the ache in my heart.  Even with the tears on my face and the choked sobs in my throat.  Do I look awful enough yet, with my blotchy cheeks and reddened eyes?

Don’t care.

“Don’t go.”  I murmur it into a shoulder; not sure whose it is.

“Idiot,” is the response I get.  “You’re the one who’s going.”

And I just sob harder, because I’m going to miss that voice.  This is the stupidest idea ever.  And it’s too late to change my mind.

This is about the time people start saying stupid things, isn’t it?  You’ll be back before you know it and You’ll be having so much fun you’ll forget all about us after five minutes.  But I won’t and I won’t.

I won’t.

It is forever.  Not matter what anyone says, it’s forever.  I know it somewhere, deep in my heart.  When I can bring myself to say goodbye, it’ll be for the last time.

I’ll never see them again.


katiefoolery: (The power of the beta!)
I’m going to rant today.  Indeed I am.  This one’s been coming on for a week or so, ever since I read a quote from an author who I used to count among my favourites.  Note the “used to”.  She used to be the first name I mentioned whenever I was asked for a favourite author, or even just an author worth reading.  I loved her books and her style and sometimes found myself influenced by it myself.  That’s all in past tense now.
[ETA: Just to clarify, it’s been a looooong time since this author was my favourite; I wasn’t turned off them or their books by the quote below.  The main purpose of the above paragraph was merely to reveal one of the biases that might have affected my rant.]

So I have a bias, I suppose.  And since this rant is about editing, my icon will hint at my other bias.  I love editing.  I believe there’s not a single writer out there who can’t benefit from a good editor.  Not.  A.  Single.  One.  And I may be only a humble beta but I still feel a thrill of pride when I read over a revised draft from one of my writers (I’m very possessive of them) and think that I helped a tiny bit in bringing that to life.

It feels like magic sometimes.

But I’d like to get to my point eventually, so I shall stop rambling and instead include the quote that inspired this rant.  (I’m not going to name the author, as I believe their identity is irrelevant.  Several of you will most likely be able to identify the author, though.  n.b. Although I mention J. K. Rowling towards the end of this rant, she is not the one who wrote the original quote.)

The quote:
“In a way I love editing... editors always want to reduce words by cutting incidents in a book, but each step is a point of careful trajectory so to cut a step is to simplify, to de-complexify a journey and I much prefer the far more time-consuming business of cutting single words from sentences, or rearranging sentences to get rid of a couple of words.  That way you retain the complexity of a book - of a journey.”

Ah, where to start?  Firstly, may I object to that generalisation that editors like to remove incidents from stories without reference to those stories as a whole?  Because any editor who does that is most certainly not doing their job properly.

I doubt that’s the case, though.  If an editor suggests an incident should be cut, then it’s usually for a good reason.  Perhaps it’s just not necessary.  Perhaps it overwhelms a more important scene.  Perhaps it’s in the wrong spot.  Or maybe it’s self-contained enough to deserve a separate story or book of its own.  But here, the author is almost implying that editors just choose scenes at random and remove them; that the editor is the enemy of the story and has no respect for it.  Here’s where my bias kicks in, for I find this insulting.  An editor’s job is to take a story and to make sure it’s the best it can be.  To imply that they have no care for the story and are prepared to suggest things that would injure it is not only fallacious, it’s downright immature.

Let’s remember that any good edtior will allow you to argue your point.  If you can sit there and say “This must stay because [insert damn good, unassailable reason here]” then your editor will most likely be impressed and may even concede the point.  An incomparable editor will not only concede the point, they’ll also sit down and work with you to make sure your damn good, unassailable reason has even more impact than you could have hoped for.

I’m going to preface this next statement by re-asserting the fact that I’m a writer, too.  I even have a degree that proves it (for what it’s worth...), along with several achievements in writing competitions.  In short, I’ve been writing since I was roughly five years old.

That being said, I do not believe for one minute that you can seriously edit a story simply by cutting single words from sentences or re-arranging them.  It is not possible.  It’s certainly possible to refine your style that way.  And it’s certainly possible to round off the structure of a short story that way.  But it is no way to edit a book and it is no way to edit AT ALL.  It’s like painting a masterpiece two inches away from the canvas and never stepping back to look at the painting as a whole.  Sure, it sounds lovely and painstaking and terribly artistic to edit by removing single words but it ignores the fact that a book is more than just the way it’s told - it’s also the way it’s structured.  You can have the loveliest sentences in the world... and they’ll do you no good if you don’t have a plot.  Or if your plot, your “journey”, is flawed and badly-constructed.

Finally, let’s look at that last statement: “That way you retain the complexity of a book - of a journey”.  There’s complexity and there’s over-writing - it’s important not the confuse the two.  What looks like complexity to one person is another person’s pointless ramble and a reason to put the book down, unsatisfied and unfinished.  There’s also complexity and pointless side-plots: one’s good, the other can destroy what could be a great book.  In my opinion, a prime example of that is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Were I J. K. Rowling, I don’t believe I could ever forgive my editor for letting that book be published in the state in which it was released to the world.  Half of the book was vital; the other half was an author having fun in the world she had created.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that - I wouldn’t want to take any of the small joys away from writing - but there’s no excuse for leaving it in the finished product.  Rowling was just lucky that her legions of readers were just as keen to revel in that world, too.  It could have been a great book; instead, it was just acceptable.  And all because verbiage was mistaken for the “complexity of a ... journey”.

I worry that young writers who still hold this author in awe will be swayed by these words; that they’ll believe editors are omgsoevil and are the enemy of every good story.  They’re not.   They’re the impartial voice.  They’re the eyes that can see the flaws we can never see as writers.  Even at our harshest, we writers are still too close to our stories to always know what’s good for them.  And if we know our story inside out, then it’s like a well-trodden path: no matter how wildly it diverges from our destination, no matter how many pointless detours it involves, it still feels like the right way to travel.  And to carry this metaphor a little further, an editor is the guide with the map who can point out the side-trips that add nothing and the trip around the base of the mountain that’s quite unnecessary because there’s a path that cuts right through here.  They’re on the same side as writers after all.

Here endeth my rant.  Please, argue or agree with me - I welcome all debate.  Do you also think you can edit one word at a time?  Or would you welcome an outside voice to point you in the right direction with your writing?  I want to know it all.
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
Need... more... sleep...  And I need to spend much more time glaring at cats for being partially responsible for said sleepiness.  Huzzah for them causing crashes that wake me up at quarter to six!  And huzzah for the fact that I probably only managed another ten minutes of sleep before the alarm so kindly woke me up at six thirty!  Heh - I say “woke me up” out of habit, because I was already wide awake.

Anyway, ’tis ficlet time again.  If you have a spare fifteen minutes and an urge to write, why not head over to [livejournal.com profile] 15_minute_fic and pick up your prompt word?

Before I stand aside for the ficlet, I think this is worth saying: I’m after all kinds of feedback.  If you read and like my ficlet, then of course I’m delighted to know.  If you read it and think it’s awful or that there’s something I really need to address in my writing, then I’m just as eager to know that.  So don’t be afraid to send concrit my way - if I can give it, I can take it too. :)




Title: Close to Insanity
Fandom: Original
Rating: G
Word count: 427 words
Prompt word: solitude


I absolutely hate it.  I’m serious.  For a while there, I thought that maybe I’d get used to it and it wouldn’t seem so bad after all.

I was so very wrong.

Now, the best I can hope for is that I’ll go completely insane and start talking to those pretty, shiny rocks in the stream over there.  At least if I’m talking to rocks, I wouldn’t be thinking about where I am or what I’m doing.

Or the fact that I’m completely alone.  Take a look around - there’s no-one to be seen for miles.  Yesterday… well, I think it was yesterday.  It’s hard to keep track of days sometimes.  So, possibly yesterday, I spent an afternoon on top of that peak there, watching some hikers travelling across the plains.  I literally watched them for hours, until they turned into black specks on the horizon.  And then I watched those black specks until they vanished.

So maybe I’m pretty close to insanity already.

I hate it all.  I hate the stupid hut.  I hate the view.  I hate the fresh air.  I hate the way the clouds look so beautiful against the deep blue sky.  I hate the soothing sound the stupid stream makes in the night.

And I hate the way I have to go and pick up my basket of food every two days, because I also hate the way I can’t bring myself to break her rules and get there early enough to “accidentally” meet her.

I’ve imagined it a hundred times.  Maybe a thousand.

Oh, I’m so sorry, I’d say.  I didn’t meant to get here so early - I still can’t get the hang of telling the TIME WITHOUT A WATCH.  Sometimes I swear there, but usually not because if there’s one thing I know I wouldn’t do (even by accident), it’s swear in front of my grandmother.

And the reason I’ll never actually go there early and say those things?  Because I can picture that look of disappointment I’d receive all too clearly.  I saw it once just a few months ago and it still hurts to think of it.

So I’m just going to stay here and either go steadily insane and begin to understand the quiet and most likely non-existent language of river-rocks… or learn whatever it is I’m supposed to be learning.  No-one said I had to be happy about the whole situation.

I’ll tell you one thing, though: if I ever start thinking, Oh, this isn’t so bad after all, then I’m heading straight home.




Comments and criticisms are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
Ooh, look - two entries in two days!  Does it count if one’s a ficlet?  In the absence of anyone to say otherwise, I shall say that it does.  :D

In other news, Pickle tried to pack herself in my suitcase.  I was half-tempted to leave her there, but I kind of needed the space for my clothes...

I’m not sure where this story came from and I have no idea where it’s going. 





Title: Not Your Fool
Fandom: Original
Rating: PG (slight language)
Word Count: 421 words
Prompt Word: fool


I should have known better.  Should have stopped and thought before I got so carried away.  Should have known you’d all misjudge my every action.  So I only have myself to blame, I guess.

Yay - I’m the idiot again.  I get to stand here and stare at the floor and pretend that all those words aren’t hurting me.  I get to put on that shamefaced smile and look all sheepish and pretend that I’m not stung to the heart.

“Absolutely moronic... and so on.”

“Can’t believe you’d be so stupid... et cetera.”

“What were you thinking?  Oh I forgot... you weren’t... and such.”

What am I supposed to say to that?  You just want me to continue the act, don’t you?  Because if I don’t, you might stop and think that what you’re saying could actually hurt.

But it wasn’t absolutely moronic.  If you’d been there when the message came through, you’d have done exactly the same thing.  You wouldn’t have thought twice and you know why?  Because thinking twice could get you killed.  I barely even had time to think once.

Couldn’t believe I’d be so stupid, huh?  Sounds like you think the exact opposite.  Sounds like you’re almost happy I was so stupid, because then I’d have destroyed your view of the world.  Then I might have made you think well of me.

Oh yeah - ha ha, I wasn’t thinking.  Because I don’t, apparently.  The fact that I’m still alive and everyone who was looking to me for orders is still alive means nothing.  Have you ever been in that situation?  Yeah, I doubt it.  ’Cause then you’d know there’s no time for thinking.  All that matters is the moment and your instinct.

Your blood thinks for you and your muscles just follow along.

Damn right I wasn’t thinking.  That sort of thinking would have got me killed.  Me and about a hundred others.

So I have to ask...  “Are you done?”

And I have to hide my laugh at the shocked look on your faces.

“Are we... done?”

“Who gave you leave to speak”

“Who the hell do you think you are?”

Nah, I’ve had enough of answering questions.  I’ve had enough of standing here, pretending to be your fool.

“Sick of this shit.”  And I am, well and truly.  I’m sorry I won the day in the wrong way.  Sorry I kept so many people alive like a moron.  Sorry I gave you such a stupid victory.  “I’m not going to be your fool any more.”




Comments and criticisms are most appreciated. :D  And have a lovely Easter while I’m away.
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
This is based on last week’s word from the [livejournal.com profile] 15_minute_fic comm.  I meant to do it last week, but my brain was stolen by a summary of doom.  There should be a lot more “o”s in that doom but I’ll leave them out for now.

It’s a week late, but here’s the ficlet.  Feel free to have a guess at the word - it might just be possible to work out what it is. :D




Title: Untitled
Fandom: Original
Rating: PG
Word count: 464 words
Prompt word: power


I’ve never felt like this before.  Never.  Never even knew I could.

Lost.  Alone.  Cold.

Hunted.

Never knew the night could be this dark.  Never knew I could run this hard and fast.

My breathing’s loud in the night now.  Loud and harsh and desperate and I can’t stop it, no matter how hard I try.  I know he can hear it, just as I know he’s waiting beyond my sight, such as it is in the darkness.

He’s out there, slinking behind the trees with a graceful silence I can only dream of.  Waiting, watching, wanting.

Hunting.

Hunting me.

On my knees now.  The grass is damp; my knees are caked with mud.  My hands, too.  What an image I must present: kneeling on the forest floor, head hanging down in despair.  My clothes stick to me with my own sweat.  It’s disgusting.  And when will I see a shower again?

Was that a sound in the darkness?  Amazing how I can suddenly go from desperation to panicked awareness.  I’m sitting here, peering into a darkness I can never hope to penetrate, trying to work out if that’s just the trees rustling... or if it’s him, playing with me.

My heart shouldn’t beat that fast.

Do I dare move?  Do I dare run into the darkness and hope it’s just that?  Blissful, empty darkness.  Or do I stay here?  Knowing he’s watching.  Knowing he’s out there.  Knowing it’s just a matter of time.

Run!

That’s what my body screams.  My mind, my heart... every instinct I have.  It’s just one great big shout of RUN.  And who am I to ignore that?

I run.  Again.  And he follows.

He doesn’t run.  I can run as far and fast as I can and he will always find me.  We both know this and yet I still run.  Despite the darkness, despite the times I fall, despite the branches that snatch at my face and leave brands of blood on my skin.

I can’t just give in.  I have to run.

I have to.

“Stop running,” he whispers, catching me so suddenly I don’t even have time to be shocked.

“No.”

“I am not giving you an option,” he says, smiling as I claw my way free of his grip.

I trip and fall.  I always lose my grace around him.  Scrambling backwards, hands scratching at the dirt.  I can’t bring myself to stand up somehow.

He is persistent in his smile and I can’t look away.  He looks so gentle and so dangerous all at once.  I have to get away.  I have to run.

And he reaches a hand down to me.  Like a choice.  As though I’m drowning and only he can save me.

I’ve never felt so powerless.





Comments and criticisms are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
Ficlet time again!  I don’t have any complaints about this week’s word - it did its job nicely this time around.  Bonus points if you can guess it, though.




Title: Shards
Fandom: Original
Rating: G
Word count: 431 words
Prompt word: thunderous


It shakes the walls, I swear it does.  Floorboards quiver.  Windows rattle in their frames.  And that really tacky vase my grandmother gave me last year (but which I love dearly) falls to the floor in the aftermath, shattering into tacky little pieces of tackiness.

I mourn its passing with a little salute and a quick bar or two of something that sounds vaguely like Amazing Grace... but probably more like that really annoying song that was just on the radio.  I never was very musical.

Oh, she’s storming back.

“What,” she begins, staring at me in disbelief, “are you doing just standing there?”

I look back at the shards of my vase and her eyes follow my gaze.

“What is that?”

“It was my vase,” I say.  Maybe I should start picking the pieces up?  Otherwise someone might stand on them.  And by ‘someone’ I mean ‘me’, because no‑one else in this house is as clumsy or absent-minded as me.

She frowns in puzzlement at the shards of tackiness.  “Vase?”  Then her frown clears... and turns into a scowl.  “You mean the thing that looked like a plastic clown had been shoved in a microwave and then covered in sequins?”

I smile.  That describes it exactly.  Well, described it.  It’s dead now.

“Thank god,” she says.  “That thing used to give me the worst nightmares.  Now stop moping over it and get ready.”

“But...”

She grinds her teeth, actually grinds her teeth at me.  “Look, I’m sorry it’s broken, OK?  But it was... an abomination, alright?  Now get over it and Get Ready.”

She storms off again and this time it sounds as though she’s leading an entire army through the house.

I shouldn’t be moping over this thing, really.  It’s just a really tacky thing my grandmother gave me.  It probably only cost her a dollar from an op shop or something.  But it’s always been there (well, since last year), sitting on my dresser and looking really hideous.  I never minded it.  It always reminded me of my grandmother.  Not that she looks hideous...  She just has this strange habit of buying ugly things out of pity.

Poor ugly deformed‑clown vase.

I walk off before she can storm back and yell at me some more.  We still have at least ten minutes before we have to go.  I can get out of my pyjamas before then.

“Ow!  Shiii‑‑‑!”

Yeah, I really should have swept that up before walking off, because I just stepped on one of the shards in my bare feet.

Stupid vase.  I’m glad it’s dead.




Comments and criticisms are most welcome.
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
So I sat down to write my ficlet today and discovered I was in a very difficult mood.  I looked at the prompt word.  Shortly after this, I glared at the word.  Soon to follow was a rather disparaging remark, shot in the prompt word’s direction.

To conclude: did not like this week’s word.

But that’s neither here nor there, really.  All that matters is that it inspires a ficlet.  Alas, all it inspired was a five word phrase that irritated me more than anything.

So I decided to write about that irritation.  I also wanted to try out something I’ve been thinking of lately, as far as structure goes.  The sentences all seem to have a strange sort of rhythm... to me, at least.  When I read over the ficlet, I felt as though I should be reading it aloud to get the full effect.

At any rate, I hope you all enjoy reading it.




Title: Reluctance
Fandom: Original
Rating: G
Word count: 232 words
Prompt word: mystic


I don’t want to do it.

Don’t want to waste my time - I don’t want to do it.

Got better things to do.  Don’t want to waste my time.  I don’t want to do it.

I could write the words down but they’d mean nothing at all.  Or I could just ignore them and leave them to the wind.

“Not a man - a mystic.”

What’s it mean anyway?  Where does it go?  Where’s the story and the plot and the motivation?

No, I don’t want to do it.

Don’t want to waste my time.

Got better things to do.

I could dream instead.  I could stare out of the window and watch the clouds go by.  I could imagine another life; another way; another set of rules.

I could revel in my laziness.

Because I don’t want to do it.

Then why does the phrase haunt my mind?  Why won’t it leave me alone?  Why can’t it accept its banishment and die quietly?

“Not a man - a mystic.”

Maybe it does go somewhere.  Maybe there is a plot.  Maybe I could even find some motivation.

Or maybe I just need to teach my imagination who's in charge here.  Because I have better things to do than to interrogate a meaningless phrase and ask why it wants to be a story.

I’d rather not waste my time.

I don’t want to do it.




Comments and criticisms are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
Another week, another word... and another ficlet.

I’d tell you all the story about the Incredible Annoying Toaster and its Passionate Affair with Trying to Electrocute Me but it’s rather short and it’s pretty much a duplicate of a previous story on the same topic I told several months ago.  In essence: me plus toaster equals trouble.

Mind you, our new toaster does toast a nice fruit muffin.

And here’s this week’s ficlet.  It’s more of a chararacter study than anything and it decided to be quite short.




Title: Untitled (character study)
Fandom: Original
Rating: PG13
Word count: 234 words
Prompt word: lovely

She’s not lovely.  She tells people this.

“I’m not lovely, I’m mean.  I’m a bitch.  I don’t care.”

They don’t listen.

She glares at herself in the mirror sometimes, wondering what it is that other people see.  Where is the loveliness?  All she sees is green eyes or brown hair with an annoying curly kink to it.

Lovely doesn’t buy you food.  Lovely doesn’t keep a roof over your head.

She doesn’t go out of her way to be kind; to care for others; to be considerate.  But she speaks softly and rarely.  The words that would destroy the image are kept back in the safety of her head.  Why waste words on people who don’t listen to them?

“I’m not lovely, I’m just quiet.”

Because I don’t care enough about you to waste words on you.

They don’t listen anyway, so why speak words that will only be ignored?

They can think what they want.

They can think that she’s sweet and delicate and never had an impure thought in her head.  They can think that she’d blush or stammer shyly or quickly turn the talk to safer topics.  They can imagine that she hasn’t been kissed; is still a virgin; has never spent a night (or day) in twisted sheets, exploring a body that is not hers.

She has given up on caring.  She knows what lovely is.

“And it’s not me.”




Comments and criticisms are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
I was supposed to hang around at work for PD today, but it turns out I don’t have to go after all.  Splendid!  Instead, I may sit here on my own in the afternoon, listening to my music and maybe catching up on my beta‑ing.  And I can go home at a normal time, instead of staying forty‑five minutes late.  I cannot find anything to complain about in that.

In further good news, the [livejournal.com profile] 15minuteficlets community posted a prompt word this week.  And because I can rarely resist the lure of writing another ficlet... I wrote another ficlet.  I’m not sure about this one, although the voice was very strong in my head.  At first, I wasn’t going to write it, because the prompt word reminded me of a drabble that’s giving me a lot of trouble and made me very sulky indeed.  And then the three words that start this ficlet popped into my head, so I just went with it, dodgy sentences and all.

As per usual, I welcome any guesses at the prompt word.  I actually used it in the story this time, so you’ll see it if you look carfully.  The standard bonus points and icon offers apply of course. :D




Title: Untitled
Fandom: Original (sort of AU/historical)
Rating: PG
Word count: 479 words
Prompt word: moon


Quiet.  Peaceful.  Dark.  All good words, but only one of them applies to me.

I am not peaceful.  I am more angry than I can possibly say.  If I were not clutching at the ground like this, you would see how my hands are shaking.  Perhaps you can see how I’m gritting my teeth, or how my eyes are narrowed with pain.  I am most definitely not peaceful.

It is night‑time, but I am not surrounded by darkness I am burning with my anger.  Every moment I recall is bathed in furious light.  The sun does not burn as brightly as my outrage and humiliation.  The moon certainly comes nowhere close.

But I am quiet.  I am just sitting here, digging my hands into the ground and being quiet.  I tried words earlier but they didn’t work.  In my anger, I could not touch the eloquence I so desired.  And I will not swear.  I cannot win this fight with vulgar words.

I will ignore those tears as they slide down my cheeks.  They are not there.  I will not cry over this.

If there are tears, then that means I am hurt and I am not going to give her the power to hurt me.

I am not wiping the tears away.  I am not feeling the evening breeze cooling against the moisture on my hand.

I am not gulping for breath as grief overwhelms me.

The images in my head will not go away, no matter how insistently I petition them.  It is not necessary to see it so many times.  Yet my memory insists, as though it is so shocked by what it saw that it must repeat the scene until it is certain there can be no mistake.

There is no mistake.  I can still feel the heat of the ball‑room, the stiff prickles of my dress.  I can hear the roar of conversation around me; I can taste the perfume on the air.  And I can remember the heat of anticipation that was almost strong enough to shake my entire body.

I can feel it all as though I am still there, not here in the cold evening air.  For a moment, I can remember the thrill of life that hummed in my veins and I can forget for just a moment that I am going to see again the scene that brought everything to a stop.

She is there with him.  With him holding her close as they dance.  Dancing through the other couples as though they are alone on the floor.  Alone.

And then she will lean in to kiss him, pulling back and laughing as she meets my eyes.  As though I and my words and my heart and my love are nothing, merely a joke at which she may laugh.

Joyful.  Heartless.  Lover.  All good words, but only one applies to her.




(My inner beta wants to change much of that.)

Comments and feedback are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
My first ficlet in a very long time!  And my first ficlet for the new comm, too.  The good Gill ([livejournal.com profile] crazedturkey) kindly volunteered to post the first word so I could write a ficlet.  And she even more kindly emailed the word to me, as I can’t get to LJ while at work.  Thank-you muchly!

Extra bonus points (or an icon, whichever you prefer) for anyone who can guess the word here.  I honestly believe it’s impossible to guess.  I know I’ve said that twice before and been proven wrong... but I mean it this time.  In fact, I can’t even work out how this story came from the prompt word in question.




Title: Strange
Fandom: Original
Rating: PG (language)
Word count: 424 words
Prompt word: garble


Strange, how my mind stops working properly when he touches me like this.  How the world seems to vanish and everything contracts to here and now and him.  How can a simple touch be responsible for losing the ability to think clearly?

Or to remember that there’s still a pot on the stove?

“Oh, shit!” I yell, leaping up from the couch and my comfortable seat on his lap.

Strange, how I can go from shyly wondering if I should kiss him to just desperately wanting to switch the smoke alarm off.

Wasn’t there a broom in this cupboard?  I’m sure there was a broom in this cupboard.  It was just the right length for jabbing at the stupid smoke alarm and I know I always kept it here.  All I can find now are towels.  Who the hell switched the broom cupboard for a towel cupboard without telling me?

I can hear him laughing, still on the couch.  It’s that low laugh I love; the one that usually fills me with warmth and sometimes makes my skin shiver with delight.

Strange, how I can go from thinking of something so pleasant to simply wondering why the hell he isn’t helping.

“The kitchen’s that way,” I snap.  You want to turn the stove off before the house burns down?  Or is that too much to ask?

I hear him moving towards the kitchen, stifled laughter following him as he goes.  It’s not funny.  It’s not funny at all.  Dinner’s ruined; I’m going insane from having to listen to this stupid smoke alarm; and now my perfect-length broom has vanished from the face of the earth.

“Relax.”  He’s right behind me, his breath on the back on my neck, followed quickly by a kiss.

“I'll relax when this is sorted out.”

Strange, how I tried to sound really stern and serious there but my words came out as breathy and distracted instead.

“Found a broom in the kitchen,” he says, holding it in front of me like it’s some sort of trophy.  He jabs it upwards and finally silences the smoke alarm.

I mutter my thanks, feeling foolish.  Why do I turn into a jerk over the smallest things?

“Is... is dinner OK?” I ask, almost afraid of the answer.

He places his right hand on his left shoulder with a solemn look to his face.  “Rest in peace, little dinner,” he says.  “We will honour your sacrifice by ordering pizza.”

Strange, how I can go from the depths of despair to smiling helplessly.





Comments and feedback are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
I’m in a very cranky-pants mood today and for no good reason.  I think that might show a bit in this week’s ficlet.  It was a lot of fun to write, although I do worry about what the main character in this might end up doing in her future.  Her bad temper is based on mine, but mine never got quite as out of hand as hers does.

Since I managed to write about the reaction to the prompt word and haven’t actually included it in the ficlet, I will give triple bonus points to anyone who can guess it.  And maybe a reward in icon form, if you’d like.
Guessed by [livejournal.com profile] rilla06 here.




Title: The Taste of Victory
Fandom: Original
Rating: PG13 (language)
Word count: 879  -  O.o  879 words??  I had to triple check that but it turns out WordPerfect wasn't lying to me.
Prompt word: mediocre


My head’s on the desk, but don’t let that fool you.  I’m not giving in.  I’m not submitting.  I’m not weak, upset, defenceless or defensive.

I’m angry.  So angry that I can’t even find the words to properly express myself.  So angry that I’ve almost stopped being angry at all.

I’ve become anger.

How dare she say that to me?  How dare she even open her mouth to me?  What does she think she is?

I’ll tell her what she is in words she’ll understand.  And my fists will be my punctuation.  And the story of herself will end when she’s too blinded by pain to comprehend anything more.

Don’t worry about me, seriously.  I’ve been this way before.  I have a short temper but my leash on it is strong.  I just need to sit here for a while, with my head on my desk, contemplating everything that’s wrong with everyone else.  Grinding my teeth.  Panting with rage.

I’ve been here before.  Many times.  You should have seen me as a kid.  Gods!  Something... no, that’s wrong.  Usually it’s someone who sets me off.  Someone who says the wrong thing.  Someone who just can’t keep their mouth shut, especially when they know exactly what will set me off.

Now, I just sit here with my head on the desk, quietly fantasising about beating someone to a bloody pulp.  When I was a kid, I screamed.  Screamed things I’d never dare say otherwise and screamed them so loudly that people in the next neighbourhood must have wondered who was being killed and when they’d shut-up about it.  And once the screaming was done, I’d sit in a corner somewhere and I’d fume.

Sometimes I’d break things too, although I stopped that when I broke my wrist in the process of punching my door.

I’m clenching my hands against the desk now, mostly because I think I’m remembered how good it felt to take my anger out on things that couldn’t feel it.  Yeah, it hurt me a lot sometimes.  And I think I liked that pain.  It went so well with my anger; fury surging through my blood and pain singing through my nerves - a perfect harmony.  I haven’t felt this need to break things for a long time.

But she shouldn’t have said it.  She really shouldn’t have said it.  And she shouldn’t have looked at me like that as she did, as though she knew exactly what her words were doing to me.  But of course she knew.

Damn.  Just broke a pen.  I think it was one I really liked, too.  I’m not going to look now but I can feel the sticky tepid moisture of ink all over my right hand.  A bit like blood, really.

“Christa?”

Oh, wonderful.  She’s here.  I’m not surprised, don’t get me wrong.  I knew she’d come in eventually.  She likes to gloat because she can do it so well when she hides it under the mask of honest concern.

“Are you OK, Christa?”

No.  You’re too close to me to be OK.

“I’m sorry if what I said upset you.”

The ink’s dripping to the floor now, making a dark patch on the worn-out corporate carpet.  Like when I broke my wrist and mum yelled at me for getting blood all over the nice new carpet.  (Don’t judge her by that, though.  She was hugging me fiercely at the time and yelling at dad to ring for an ambulance.  She just needed to distract herself from her panic.)

“Can I get you anything?”

Does she really expect me to say anything to her?  To respond?  I know what you’re like, you bitch.  I don’t play your stupid game.

“Christa?”  I can hear her moving a bit and then the sounds of some tissues being ripped out of a box.  “Do you want a tissue?”

No, because I’m not fucking crying.  Bitch!

I bet she’s looking concerned, too.  Biting her lower lip in worry.  Shading her eyes with gentle consideration when she’s secretly crowing her victory inside.

She thinks she’s consolidating her victory, but really she’s just stoking the fires of my anger.  And she seals her fate when she stands up quietly and goes to the door.  “I’m just going to shut the door on us, OK?  Give you a little privacy.”

I move quicker than I could have dreamed.  My mug of coffee is airborne before she even turns from pushing the door shut and it hits her right in the chest, shatteirng in shards of ceramics and showering her flimsy dress with steaming hot coffee.

Because I always need coffee when I’m fuming in anger.

She utters a short, sharp sort of noise before falling to the floor, whimpering in pain.  I look at the stain of coffee on her chest and almost wish it was blood.  I walk over to her, smiling at the way her emotions are now revealed plainly in her eyes.  Pain.  Disbelief.  Fear.

“Never,” I hiss at her, “never call me that again.”

She whimpers and manages to nod as her hands tear uselessly at her dress, trying to get the steaming hot spill of coffee off her skin.

“And stop dripping coffee on my carpet,” I say as I step over her.




Comments and feedback are most appreciated. :D
katiefoolery: (15 minute ficlets)
First entry for the new year and I am sickly but quite satisfied with life.  New Years was absolutely splendid, despite the absolutely rubbish weather and being shot in the head with a party popper gun.  Actually, the last just added to the amusement more than anything.  There shall be a more comprehensive report on that later, most likely with accompanying photographic evidence of enjoyment.

I hope everyone else had equally splendid new years eves or at least will have a splendid 2007.

For now, I present the first fifteen minute ficlet I have written by hand.  I got Bindi to write the prompt word down on a piece of paper and fold it up so I could do the ficlet while I was away.  I couldn’t even take my laptop with me, due to its deciding to break down a week before.  (And of course, it chose to destroy the battery - the only thing not covered by my extended warranty...)

Anyway, here is the ficlet.  Original fic this time.  Bonus points for guessing the prompt word (and I promise not to sneeze on them).
This week’s prompt word of "open" was guessed by [livejournal.com profile] naelany.



Title: Distraction
Fandom: Original
Rating: PG13 (some slightly graphic imagery towards the end)
Word count: 412
Prompt word: open

“I love you all,” she said.

I rolled my eyes.  Please tell me we’re not at the stage where she starts declaring undying love for us all.  Because that’s only one step away from the stage where she attempts to make a pyramid out of beer glasses.  And that’s only one step away from the stage where she decides that indoors is a good place to practise her sharp-shooting.

And she can’t even hit things much smaller than an elephant at point-blank range even when she’s completely sober.

I pat her arm, trying to avoid the residue of the chocolate body paint as best I can.  “That’s great.  We love you too.”

Yeah, just don’t look at the guys right now.  Two hours ago, I could have glared them into removing those shocked looks from their faces.

Not now.

Not now she’s mostly wearing only body paint and reeking of almost every drink in the place.

“No, I mean it,” she says, lowering her voice and giving me her patented puppy-dog eyes.  “I really, really mean it.  You think I’m just thinging this because I’m...”  She pauses, looking distantly puzzled.  “Oh yeah.  Because I’m a bitch.”

I close my eyes in frustration.  Maybe I should have stopped this a while back... such as when she said: hey, let’s go for a drink!

But I can’t say no to her right now.  Not after what she’s just been through.

“You’re not a bitch,” I tell her.

Her face crumples into tears.  Well, tears and body paint.  “That’s so sweet,” she sobs at me.  “I love you, Kara.”

Oh, are we back there?  Fantastic.  But I don’t have much time to lament this fact, because the next thing she says is:

“Can you guys pass me the thing glasses?  I want to make a myrapid!”

And it’s only a short step from there to the shooting practice.  Half an hour ago, I didn’t think I’d be happy about the fact that she’s not wearing any actual clothing but I am now.  Because it means she can’t possibly be hiding any weaponry on her.

But I’m going to hand her those glasses and I’m going to watch her build that pyramid because right before she suggested going for a drink, she told me all about seeing her best friend’s head being shot open.

And if I can help her forget about that for just a few hours, then I’ll do whatever it takes.




Wow - could I have possibly started any more sentences with conjunctions?  I think I’ll have to work on cutting that back in my next ficlet.

Comments and feedback are most appreciated. :D

Oh well...

Dec. 29th, 2006 09:16 am
katiefoolery: (Oops...)
So, it turns out my Timothy-of-the-heads doesn’t like the things I've been writing of late.  This is (rather frustratingly) both a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s good because I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that he said he liked my writing out of some sort of obligation.  You know, if you’re married to someone, then you might as well pretend you enjoy the stories and assorted fiction they produce...  So the up side of this whole situation is that I can kiss that worry good-bye.  He does have the ability to tell me when he doesn’t like my stuff.

On the down side, it’s more than a little unfortunate, because this is the way I write now.  This is what I write now.  And I’m as surprised as anyone.  I thought I’d finished with changing my writing style once I stopped being a teenager.  Back then, I was liable to start a story one month and be completely incapable of continuing the next, due to the drastic changes in my writing as I grew up.

But I had been under the impression that this had settled down... until I started writing those fifteen minute ficlets.  So now I have a new style of writing and a Timothy who doesn’t seem to like said new style of writing.

*sigh*

On the up side, there’s only ONE DAY TO GO until the LorFers come down to Melbourne and we can celebrate the new year in style!  Or, you know, with sherbet lemons or something.
katiefoolery: (Huzzah!)
Merry Christmas!

I wish you...
     last-minute wrapping
          and staying up late
               and carols until midnight

I wish you...
     early mornings
          and smiles
               and shouts of delight

I wish you...
     scraps of wrapping paper
          and curls of ribbon
               and chaos under the Christmas tree

I wish you...
     no batteries
          but no worries
               and no cares

I wish you...
     laughter
          and mischief
               and bad jokes in your Christmas cracker

I wish you...
     family
          and food
               and falling asleep in the afternoon

I wish you...
     a Merry Christmas
katiefoolery: (Goku thinks it's time to worry)
I’ve been suspecting that my love of writing has returned with a vengeance of late.  There’s the way my head is just stuffed full of ideas.  And the way my muse won’t actually let me sleep unless I swear at her.  And let’s not forget the way I'm actually writing stuff instead of just day-dreaming about it and hoping it’ll write itself.

But as far as I’m concerned, the one true mark of being a writer is that I always have a note-book with me and that being without one can cause a panic.

Which is what happened on Saturday afternoon.  We were at a friend’s place, so I’d switched from my normal bag to a less conspicuous one (what?  I’m addicted to bags.  I can’t help it.).  In doing so, I’d completely forgotten to transfer my notebook so it was happily sitting in my old bag at home while I was less happily sitting on the couch at our friend’s place, desperate to write something down.  And I mean desperate.

If I couldn’t write it, I was going to explode.

I had to write it.  And I didn’t have a scrap of paper or a writing implement to my name.  Of course, the story didn’t really care about the realities of the situation and it settled for poking me... and poking me... and poking me... until I had to do something about the whole situation.  Much to the consternation of the people around me, I jumped up out of my seat and grabbed the car keys.  Luckily, the nature of my Timothy’s job means that the car is pretty much always filled with paper.  So that need was quickly addressed.  And when I got back inside, I saw a red pen sitting on the table so I grabbed it.  Of course, it almost didn’t work, but I forced into compliance.

Then I sat down and wrote.

I felt so much better.  My imagination even took pity on me and provided another story idea, which I obediently jotted down on the other side of the paper.

It’s been a very long time since I've needed to write something as badly as that.  I feel like a real writer again.

Oh, and I’ll never leave home without my notebook ever again.
katiefoolery: (Vegito feels pretty and coy)
I swore at Jane last night.  Well, not out loud, because people were asleep and would have been more than a little disgruntled if I’d suddenly yelled out, “F@#% you, Jane!” to an othewise silent house.

I’m not usually that rude to her... mostly because she pays no attention.  But it was two o’ clock in the morning and I was slightly interested in getting some sleep and I did not appreciate being kept up because my daft, furniture-obsessed muse had decided that we had a really good story idea that I had to go and start writing right this minute.

It’s the way she takes me by surprise that annoys me the most.  My muse attacks by stealth.  There I was, desperately trying to get to sleep whilst simultaneously musing over what I have come to call “The Black Fiddle Issue”.  Which doesn’t sound all that impressive, really.  In essence, I am in deep hatred with Black Fiddle at the moment and I have no idea what to do with this first draft of mine.  Setting fire to it is my favourite option at the moment.  I guess I’ll have to wait until a day when we don’t have a total fire ban, but it’ll be worth it.

So there I was, thinking to myself that the only thing I really like about the entire draft is the concept of the Black Fiddle itself.  And that’s where Jane stepped in and grew extremely hyper about the idea of writing the story of the Black Fiddle’s origins and wouldn’t this be great and you could work that in too.  And oh! oh! oh! what about this?

It was around about then that I swore at her in my mind and tried to go to sleep on her.

Which I managed about an hour or so later.

Cursed muses.

But enough about Jane.  I really came here today to share some photos I took of the smoke on Wednesday evening.  For the last couple of weeks, bushfires have been raging in the north-east of the state and every now and then, the smoke drifts across the city and suburbs.  It was incredibly thick on Wednesday - you couldn’t escape the smell of smoke even if you were inside.  And this is what it looked like where I live.  (All of the pictures link to larger images.)

This is taken from our front porch, looking at the houses directly beside and behind us.  The whiteness is not cloud - it’s all smoke.
Click for a larger image


This is what we could see if we looked towards the city.  Not a lot, really.
Click for a larger image


And this is an intersection about fifty metres from our house.  You can barely see what the cars are driving into.
Click for a larger image

Luckily, the skies are clear today and it rained last night, so I’m hoping the news on the fires is looking a little more positive.
katiefoolery: (Inspiration)
It’s funny the things you remember that you hadn’t realised you’d forgotten in the first place... It’s the mental equivalent of finding a long-lost photo of yourself doing something absolutely stupid which you’d successfully managed to forget until the curse of photography brought it rushing right back to you.

But I believe I’ve already wandered off on a tangent, so I’ll just come right back here.

Lately, I’ve taken to writing down scenes and snippets of story in my little black notebook while at work. During my breaks, that is. It’s doing wonders for my handwriting - I can actually read it now! Even DAYS after I’ve written it. In the past, it seemed to have a sort of time-limit: if I didn’t transcribe my messy scrawl to the computer within a couple of days, I’d no longer be able to decipher it and it would be lost forever.

In many cases, that might have been a good thing, now that I think about it.

I just hope I don’t take it too far and get to a point where OTHER people can read my handwriting. That’s a fine balance I’ve been maintaining for years now and I'd hate to disturb it. For one thing, it would take away all the fun my parents receive from squinting at what I’ve written on their birthday cards and then deliberately mis-reading what’s there in an attempt to annoy me. Little do they know I make an extra effort to be illegible when I write those cards, just to give them this small joy.

BUT I do have a point and I’m sort of approaching it. I’m pretty sure it was something about remembering things long forgot. (Oh, the irony...) The tiny little things that won’t change your life but suddenly make you feel more... you, I suppose. And I’ve re-discovered one of those in my handwriting of stories. Just a little thing. It came back to me on Monday, when I finally had to accept that recess was over and it was time to go back to work. There I was, sitting at my work-bench, upper body sprawled across the surface as I directed my pen across the page in increasingly legible ciphers and rested the side of my head flat against the table as I did so.

Like I said, it’s a little thing but I’d completely forgotten I used to do that. I can hardly see what I’m writing and it probably looks like I’ve fallen asleep if you’re watching from a distance - but it’s so comfortable! Much more comfortable than slouching at a computer or waging a war against the useless weakling of a keyboard on my laptop. It suddenly brought back to me memories of sitting just like that in the classroom during lunch and recess at primary school, scribbling away at my silly stories in my even-worse handwriting.

It’s quirks such as these that are easily lost when you do most of your writing at a desk covered in a computer.

But I’d love to know if anyone else has a quirk like this. Am I the only one who watches their story take place from a sort-of sideways view? Are there weirder writing postures out there? What makes everyone else comfortable when they write?
katiefoolery: (Goku is uncertain)
I need to write exactly two thousand, two hundred and ninety-seven words in the next few days if I hope to meet my November target of ten thousand words.  And you know what?  I can do that.  Easily.  Tonight, in fact, if I actually get my act together.

Of course, it’s entirely likely that I’ll forget this intention to write and instead spend the evening reading fanfic, messing about on messageboards and writing pointless lists of stuff.  But I shall do my best not to let that happen.  Well, much.

Besides, the pointless lists will be about writing, so they practically count towards my word count, don’t they?

*looks hopeful*

I really do need to make a list of these stories in my head, otherwise I’ll lose track of them.  And maybe if I write them down, that will keep them separate and they’ll stop bumping into each other and making new little baby stories to add to the litter.  I’m only one person!  I can only write so much.  And that procrastinating takes a huge chunk out of my time, too.

In non-writing news, I’m finding myself increasingly alienated from this person who used to be “Buneater”.  It’s quite a bizarre sensation, considering that’s who I’ve been pretty much since I first set foot on the ’net.  But she seems to belong in the past and she keeps pulling away from me, looking askance at who I am now and raising a disdainful eyebrow at the stories that come into my head these days.  And it’s OK with me, because I don’t really feel like “Buneater” any more.  I think I’m almost ready to start saying my goodbyes to her and move onto something new.  ’Cause there's a great deal of fun stuff in my life that isn’t related to Bunliness at all.  Yes indeed.

Mind you, there’s still a fair bit that is attached to Bunliness, but I can cope with that.  Being introduced to people’s friends and family as “Bunne” is quite a unique experience, really.

But I’d be interested to know if anyone else has done what I seem to be doing: switching one internet identity for the other.  Is it always such a strange experience?  Or is it just a matter of using a different name?  And how do you keep from potentially alienating people who have always known you by your first “identity”?
katiefoolery: (Goku approves!)
I’m not going to put my ficlet up this week because gah.  Yes, gah.  When I think about it, the only response my brain can come up with is the wonderfully pointless gah.

I don’t know why I hate it so much, although I have been thinking about it.  Perhaps it’s because it was trying so hard to fit in with the other two ficlets based on the same characters (for ’twas another Rena story).  Or maybe it’s just that Rena and Nevin were being very boring and stupidly cryptic in their dialogue.  But I won’t complain too much, for ’tis another five hundred and fifty words towards my November word count which, may I just add, is already the highest monthly word count for the entire year.

I’m sort-of doing NaNo, although I’m not aiming for fifty thousand words and neither am I devoting myself to writing one story exclusively.  Instead, I’m aiming for a word-count of ten thousand by the time the month is over (at least ten thousand, that is.  I’ll accept more than ten thousand with pleasure...) and putting my word-count towards keeping Melbourne ahead of all the other Australian capital cities.  And it’s working!  Melbourne, quite simply, rocks.

In other writing news, I managed to write an entire LorF episode the other night while my Timothy-of-the-heads was sitting more or less next to me, playing his nerd game.  I guess I must have been in an “obsessively absorbed by what I’m writing” mood as opposed to my more normal “Ack I can’t write because he’s right next to me WATCHING MY EVERY WORD!” mood.  It was a fun piece to write, though.  Lots of dialogue and playing around with words and hinting at things to frustrate all the other LorFers...  Yes, a great deal of fun indeed.

Here is where I express my newly-rediscovered joy of writing.  Yes, right here:

Ironically, though, I don’t think I’m actually capable of expressing how delighted I am by this.  Gone is the self-doubt and reluctance and negative-attitude towards writing that was gifted to me by university.  I can’t quite grasp that, really.  I never thought it would go... but it has.  I’ve finally crawled my way out of the writing funk that has plagued me since uni and I can now dance about the house, grinning like a loon because I have stories in my head and I really want to write them.  And I mean, I really want to write them.  Not some time next week.  Not once I see that pig flying past the window.  NOW. Right now.

I take my stories to work; I write in between cataloguing and yelling at printers; I scribble notes on the bus; I... ooh, look!  I just used a whole bunch of semi-colons without thinking about it! That’s a punctuation break-through for me.

Er, but back to the point.  I love writing again.  I can say it without secretly suspecting myself of lying.  It’s all very, very good indeed.
katiefoolery: (Girl writing in cap)
Rena decided to come back for this ficlet.  This one takes place some time before the first ficlet I wrote, which gave me a chance to have fun and try and fore-shadow things.  I’d just like to take this chance to a) thank Nevin for deciding to exist, and, b) explain that I have no knowledge of reading fortunes from cards whatsoever.  In fact, I’m not even sure what Nevin thinks he’s doing, as he seems to be using a normal pack of playing cards.

I have also observed that you know you’re involved in what you’re writing when you look up to discover that you completely forgot to eat your double-coat chocolate tim-tam.

Oh, and before I leave you to the story, I’d love to see if anyone can guess what the prompt word was. [livejournal.com profile] naelany and [livejournal.com profile] flamehail got it.




Title: The Knave in Disguise
Fandom: Original (related to this ficlet)
Rating: PG
Word count: 596
Prompt word: knave


Nevin holds up a card and it’s the knave.  We both stare at it: me, in surprise, he, with intense concentration.

“What does it mean?” I ask, when Nevin doesn’t speak.

“What do you want it to mean?” he murmurs.

I frown at him.  “Are you just going to ask me questions?”

“Isn’t that what you’re doing now?”

For a moment, we glare at each other, each seeking an answer in the other’s eyes.  Then we laugh and I’m glad of the sudden release of tension.

“You’re an idiot,” I say.

“On the contrary, I am a genius,” he objects, flicking the card between his fingers until it becomes a blur.  “I-” he suddenly flips the card into the air, catching it between his fingers again “-am a master of the cards.  They hide no secrets from me.”  He lowers his voice and gives me an absurdly smouldering look.  “I know everything about you, Rena.”

“You’ve known me since I was five.”

“Ah yes, this is true,” he says, taking the smouldering look away and replacing it with a slightly injured one.  “I do indeed know your favourite foods and how you hate the colour green.  I know that your mother can’t spell and your father is most likely a dark anti-hero, carousing about the universe in search of wrongs to accidentally right and innocent young virgins to educate in the way of things.”  He stops to look at me.  “You should probably slap me here.”

I shrug.  “I’d only hurt myself,” I say.

“But I just insulted the honour of your father,” he says.

“No, you insulted the honour of a figment of your imagination,” I tell him.  It’s hard to feel hurt when he doesn’t mean it, anyway.  And it’s not as though I actually know who my father is, although my mother probably has her reasons for not telling me.

“Don’t you want to know, Rena?” Nevin asks.  “Doesn’t it claw at your mind in the middle of the night?  Doesn’t it leave an empty spot in your life?”

“No,” I lie.

Nevin gives me an all-too-knowing grin.  “The cards could tell you,” he says.  “Don’t you want to hear what they have to say?”

“No I don’t,” I say.  “I want you to tell me what that stupid knave means before I…  Before I…”

“Before you think of a threat?”

I glare at him, but it’s half-hearted.  I’ve never actually been able to glare at my oldest friend, even if he is annoying and so sure of his own absolute intelligence.  You might as well try to kick a puppy, really.

“Nevin.”

He sighs.  “Fine.”  He places the card between us with casual care.  “The knave is a warning for the future, Rena.  A hero in disguise; a villain with a halo.”

I snort at him.  “Are you talking about my ‘father’ again?”

But I hold back my mirth at his sudden look of seriousness.  “The knave means you can’t trust yourself, Rena.”

“What does that nonsense mean?”

Nevin whips the card away and places it back in the deck.  “If you’re not going to take this seriously…”

“Oh, don’t give me that.  Just five minutes ago you were telling me to watch out if I went for a walk in the woods in case a squirrel fell on me.”

“That was five minutes ago,” he says, trying to look hurt and failing completely.  “Now I’m telling you to be careful.  You can’t always tell the knave straight away.”  There’s genuine concern in his eyes now.  “Look out for yourself, Rena.”




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April 2011

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